Sunday, 4 December 2011

Working class are paying for the war budget

Over the last year public sector workers, pensioners and students as well as other sections of the working class have been identified as those who must bear the brunt of the austerity measures. It is us who will pay for the chaos created by the insane and uncontrollable banking system.

EMAs removed, student fees increased, wage freezes, cuts in the welfare supports and the change in the indexation of pensions and benefits from RPI to CPI have, together with the huge increases in unemployment, ensured that all know that the government priorities are to protect their class and squeeze the rest.

The increasing impoverishment of the old, the poor, the sick and the young has developed with a stark rapidity. No democratic mandate. No debate about options. Just a list of all that they can do to suck any margins from those who have so little.

Yet meanwhile the war budgets are sacrosanct. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2001/2 announced the open budget for the war - the government would spend whatever was required for the military budget, again with no debate. While pensioners are finding that winter fuel payments are slashed, the expenditure on drones, weapons, Humvees and the forces continues.

Whilst the state retirement pension is still substantially below the poverty line, with £102 per week and over 2.5M living in poverty today (only Cyprus, Latvia and Estonia in Europe paying lower pensions) the war budgets can swell if NATO decides to institute a no fly zone in Libya. No questions asked.

While the top earners in the country – the top 0.1% - take over 6.5% of GNP and the average pay of the 350 FTSE directors increased their earnings by 73% at a time when share prices fell by 5% and the directors of the large companies take pensions averaging £175000 pa there is no drive to tax the wealthy as part of the anti austerity drive. As the rich get richer and the poor poorer, in Britain and the US, war budgets are untouched. Britain has been spending around £7 billion pa on Afghanistan and Libya and £2 billion annually on the “upkeep” of Trident.

Each year the US Congress pours $120 billion + into the Afghanistan operation. This constitutes over $100 million per day for military purposes and other NATO countries put in $7 million a day for non military aid. Britain spends over £6 billion each year on the military operations.

Since October 10th 2001 the US, UK and others has been conducting a constant war against the Taliban and others. But they also claim that development and reconstruction are also integral to their anti-insurgency operations. Today there are still over 200 000 “coalition forces” together with 250000 contractors, many more commonly known as mercenaries, but the claim is that the troops will leave in 2014. (If the US wants to maintain their presence and if the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan - Pakistan – Indian pipeline is to start in 2012 and be completed by 2014 this leaving date may be postponed).

Given the injection of inconceivable sums of money what is the result after 10 years?
War and occupation! This means large numbers of deaths, injuries and traumas amongst the Afghan population. Civilians slaughtered, “insurgents” killed; and a constant bloody toll of occupation troops which is now hardly mentioned in the western media. A society torn apart; corruption, violence, torture, instability, suicide bombings in the “safe” areas of Kabul, drone attacks on areas under insurgent control and through the Pakistan / Afghanistan border areas, and widespread opposition to the puppet Karzai government.

The Red Cross reports that Afghanistan is a more dangerous country than it has been over the last 30 years, as described by Afghan activist Malalai Joya:

"Ten years ago the US and NATO invaded my country under the fake banners of women’s rights, human rights and democracy. But after a decade Afghanistan still remains the most uncivil, most corrupt, and most war torn country in the world. The consequences of this so called war on terror have only been more bloodshed, crimes, barbarism, human rights and women’s rights violations which has doubled the miseries and sorrows of our people". Monthly Review Oct 7th 2011